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Dec. 27th - 29th (Reports & 2011 Recap)

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Joined: 12 Feb 2007
Posts: 657
Location: Texas Gulf Coast

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:58 pm    Post subject: Dec. 27th - 29th (Reports & 2011 Recap) Reply with quote

I hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed Christmas holiday. We had a great one here spending time together and eating way too much good food. I was ready to get back on the water again and try to work off some of the turkey and dressing.

Dec. 27th - Jimmy, his son Jimmy and Jimmy's brother Joe fished with me over in West Bay. The wind was NW at about 15mph early then switched over to the NE later in the day. The tide was ripping out most of the day and the water was streaky. These are all the things one would want to catch fish this time of year over there, but it just wasn't that great. We grinded hard to box 8 trout to 23 inches, two nice flounder and a 24 inch redfish. We also caught 6 or 8 throwback trout and reds before calling it quits around 3 O'clock. While catching 11 keepers isn't bad for this time of year we should have caught more than we did. I just don't think there are a lot of fish in West Bay this winter because of the drought. Bass Assassins and Maniac Mullets caught our fish today.

Dec. 28th - I changed things up a bit with Ronnie and his son B.J. after struggling yesterday. I went back to where we were catching good numbers of fish a couple of weeks ago before the crowds ran us off. There weren't many boats when we started our first drift, but that didn't last long. By the second drift we had to relocate so we could make a drift without being run over. The bites were few and far between as the surface water temperature was hovering around 40 degrees. We hooked around 18 or 19 nice trout, but only got 9 of them into the boat along with some throwback trout, reds and a flounder. The highlight of the day was B.J. catching his first speckled trout ever (a 3.5 pounder). Maniac Mullets and various colored Assassins worked for us. The only consolation was that all of our trout were 18 to 23 inches and very fat.

Dec. 29th - I decided to switch gears once again because of the heavy boat traffic the day before and try another area. The bite started out slow for Doug, Sid and Charles, but they eventually started catching some nice trout despite the extremely soft bites. Limetreuse Assassins worked very slowly off the bottom over mud did the trick. We headed in at 1:30 with 15 trout ranging from 18 to 23 inches in the box. I spoke with some buddies later that evening and they said that they had a pretty good late afternoon bite which makes sense with the tides and water temperatures the way they were. My guys were fine with what they had and Charles had more than enough fillets to take back home to New Braunfels with him. It was a fun trip as always with Doug and his crew and a great way to end what has been another great year of fishing.

2011 in Review – Ups & Downs, but Really Good Overall!
It would be easy for me to just sit here and type “Well, it was another banner year on Galveston Bay…Thanks & Happy New Year.” Instead, I think it makes more sense to take a look at why we caught fish when and where we did and what were the reasons we struggled on some days. Here is a timeline of events that affected our fishing patterns in 2011:

January – Fishing was status quo for the most part with trout and redfish hanging out in their normal winter patterns over thick mud and shell. We fished five totally different parts of the Galveston Bay Complex and did about the same in all of them. MirrOlures and Corkies were our best baits for the month. We never caught any huge trout, but had a lot of 3’s and 4’s with a few over 5 and 6 pounds that were released.

February Freeze – While an arctic front-induced freeze in early February didn’t kill many game fish species here in the Galveston Bay complex there were nearly 300,000 forage species (piggy perch, hardhead catfish, mullet, etc.) killed along the Texas Coast. There was some mortality reported of adult speckled trout along the middle coast, however. The bottom line is we dodged a bullet here, but it certainly changed our usual pattern for a little while. We caught fish in deeper guts than we normally would and the trout stayed lethargic for pretty much the first two weeks of February. Their metabolism slowed down so much that they simply just didn’t need to eat much during that period. By the end of the month we were back to catching in our normal winter spots and the redfish started making more appearances in our daily creels. The sizes of our trout were about average with most in the 2 to 4 pound range and a few over 5 and 6 pounds.

March Winds – March is always a hit and miss month here in Galveston Bay because it’s a transitional month, but winds gusting to over 20 mph most days added another challenge. If I didn’t have wade fishermen on my boat then it was a struggle to catch many fish. On the rare calm days fishing was above average. Many times our bite was better during the late afternoon hours which is often the case during transitional months. A mixture of Bass Assassins, Corkies and topwaters caught our fish. We also caught fish in areas that would normally be pretty fresh. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were in for one of the driest years in decades.

April….No Showers, but More Wind – Every April here is windy, but this year was ridiculous! With almost the entire month booked I was only able to squeeze in 14 or 15 trips and half of those trips were spent grinding it out in 20 mph winds. Overall, however, we actually caught quite a few trout and reds despite the poor conditions. Drifting on calmer days and working what few birds we had put limits and near limits in the box. Our brown shrimp crop was way down because of the drought so we didn't expect to see many birds working. Better quality trout were caught while wading with topwaters and Corkies.

May & June – This year the high winds continued all the way into mid-June. By the end of June I had cancelled more than 50 trips which I’ve never had to do before. Fishing was outstanding on the lighter wind days and still pretty good even while fishing in 15 mph winds. The main difference was where we were catching a lot of our fish. Because of the high salinities a lot of our fish never made the push around the corner into East Bay. Therefore, we spent more days than usual up in Trinity Bay and Upper Galveston Bay. Normally, I would drift slicks over shell then finish up working birds if I had to, but things were much different this year. This would be the beginning of a summer with more time spent working giant balls of shad versus drifting reefs. Not to say that the reef fishing wasn’t good, but there were just fewer reefs holding high concentrations of trout as in years past. The formula is very simple – fish follow food and most of the food was in the lower salinity areas. May and June coughed up a lot of very good quality trout up to 6 pounds. Most were caught on Bass Assassins.

July – October…..Let the Cat & Mouse Games Begin – By the time July rolled around it was hard to make a wrong move. We were catching a lot of fish in Trinity, East and Lower Galveston Bays. The water was still at record salinity levels and the boat traffic seemed to be at record levels as well. Word was out on where the fish were, how big and how many. Internet fishing forums, newspapers and radio shows were buzzing. As a result, we were getting covered up with other boats. We would find some fish and maybe have them to ourselves for 2 or 3 days at best. Then someone would get on a fishing forum to beat their chest and there would be 10 or 15 other boats there the next day. We started moving around a lot more, fishing 20 miles from where we fished the day before just to avoid the boat traffic. It was fun and challenging at first, but it got old after awhile. Some days we would head to the back lakes and catch redfish until the bays cleared out where we could go catch our trout. July was a solid “10” with my guests catching early limits of trout up to 5 pounds quite often. Redfishing was outstanding in open water schools and in the back lakes. August and September fishing was about as good as I can remember with even quite a few flurries of birds working over what few white shrimp we had. October was simply outstanding! We caught more big trout than I ever remember catching during that month with quite a few 6 plus pounders and even one 8.25 pound trout that was caught and released. Bass Assassins, topwaters and spoons worked great.

November & December…..Excellent Fishing, but Hard to Hide – By November my strategy had become to hit areas where no one else was fishing knowing that we may not catch as many as in other areas where we had been. To my surprise, we not only caught plenty of trout, but lots of big trout. Several over 7 pounds and quite a few over 5 and 6 pounds were being caught and released every week. Soft plastics were still catching most of our fish early in November, but Corkies and Maniac Mullets started playing a larger role as the water temperatures dropped. It wasn’t long before we were forced out of those areas and had to find something else. We headed to West Bay early in December and were rewarded with easy limits of nice trout for about a week. The catching gradually declined over in West so we went back to an area where we were catching a few weeks earlier hoping the crowds wouldn’t be there. It wasn’t so bad at first, but by mid-morning we counted over 25 boats. My last trip of 2011 (December 29th) found us in an area I haven’t fished in years. Only half limits of trout found their way to the cooler, but they were all very solid trout. Hopefully we can hide there for awhile until someone else finds out and it gets posted somewhere for all the world to see. 2012 should be another great year especially if Mother Nature blesses us with some rain. Happy New Year!
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